He was an intimate friend of Severus, whom he accompanied to Britain, and who before his death specially commended his two sons to Papinian's charge. Papinian tried to keep peace between the brothers, but this only excited the hatred of Caracalla, and who ordered his murder in the general slaughter of Geta's friends which followed the fratricide of AD 212. The details are variously related, and have undergone legendary embellishment, but the murder of Papinian, which took place before Caracalla himself, was one of the most disgraceful crimes of that emperor.
Little more is known about Papinian. He was perhaps a Syrian by birth, for he is said to have been a kinsman of Severus's second wife, Julia Domna; that he studied law with Severus under Scaevola is asserted in an interpolated passage in the Historia Augusta.
Although his output was small compared to other jurists such as Ulpian or Paulus, he was highly influential. The Law of Citations (issued in 426) stated that failing a majority of legal authorities for or against a decision or interpretation, the side Papinian sided with should prevail. His principal works include: Quaestiones in 37 books (written before 198); Responsa (written sometime between 204 and his death); Definitiones; and De adulteriis.
This entry is based on text originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.